Karibuni Jamvini Wanajamii

Tangaza Hapa

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"I hope a free Africa will remember the little I did for this continent. I am a satisfied man because I played my part".
HASHIM MBITA, 24.8.2014.

1. Introduction:

CAMARADA, Rt. Brig. Gen. HASHIM IDD MBITA, chose to sleep forever on 26.4.2015 at the Lugalo Millitary hospital, Dsm after a long illness. Brig. Gen. MBITA did not die, to borrow an English catchphrase, "Soldiers never die, they simply fade away". Brig. Gen. MBITA simply faded away. He chose to fade away on the date that Tanganyika and Zanzibar were united to create the United Republic of Tanzania. Thus, in my humble view, UNITY is the message he left behind.


"There are very few people that have served the country the way Mzee MBITA has served this nation. He also led the liberation efforts of our brethren in the Southern African countries for 20 years until they all achieved their independence. There is not a freedom fighter in Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa who did not know the contribution made by Mzee MBITA. His death has robbed us of a true son of the African soil. He was a man of his own kind"

There are certain individuals life and fate make us stumble upon not to learn from them as they breath, but rather that we may marvel at their collossal nature when they are no longer with us. Such is the case with Brig. Gen. MBITA.

The Dot.com generation knows very little or nothing about this Big man. Currently, one can hear a story here and there of what this fallen hero did. With the passing of time and if no effort is made towards writing his Big Story, then Brig. Gen. MBITA could be just a smoke that just passed over the sky!.

The Billion-dollar question is who was this Unique Tanzanian who served his country with honour and distinction?

2. Birth of a Jewel:

HASHIM IDD MBITA was born on 2.11.1933 at Songoro, Gongoni, Tabora.

3. Primary Education:

MBITA studied at Town primary school and passed his exams with flying colours.

4. Secondary Education:

MBITA joined Tabora boyz secondary school, known for nurturing luminaries for post-independence government, in 1950 and he completed his A Leve studies in 1957.

5. MBITA Joins the Cooperatives Department:

MBITA joined the Cooperatives Department in Mwanza in 1957.

6. MBITA Joins TANU:

MBITA joined the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) in 1958 and was always a humble party cadre before moving to public relations as a journalist.

7. MBITA Joins the Ministry of Information:

MBITA, a journalist by profession, worked with the Department of Information, Ministry of Information as the Director of Information.

8. MBITA Attends Millitary Training in the UK:

Given Mwalimu NYERERE's overhaul and re-branding of the army after the 1964 mutiny, MBITA was sent to UK for millitary training and then was appointed political commissar in the army.

9. MBITA Becomes Press Secretary to Mwalimu NYERERE:

MBITA, thereafter, moved to the State House to become Press Secretary to Mwalimu NYERERE and was later TANU's Secretary General.

10. MBITA Becomes TANU's Secretary General:

In 1970, MBITA was appointed TANU Secretary General.

11. MBITA Appointed Executive Secretary of OAU in 1972:

In 1972, MBITA was appointed Executive Secretary of the the OAU Coordinating Committee for the liberation of Africa.

MBITA's work was guarded by the 9-nation Committee with a Non-Executive Chairman. He had to link up and work with the OAU Secretary General and occassionally with the rotating chairmen.

Nurturing these relationships and balancing between the demands from Addis and from the Committee of Nine was not easy.

MBITA mobilized materials and training for the liberation forces of the remaining countries still under colonial rule, all of whom gained independence during his tenure including Guinea-Bissau 1974, Cape Verde 1975, Angola 1975, Zimbabwe 1980, Namibia 1990 and South Africa 1994.

As Committee Administrative Chief, Brig. Gen. MBITA was singulary the person most hated by the likes of Ian Smith in Rhodesia and F.W De Clerk of South Africa. As such, the regimes considered Brig. Gen. MBITA the Trouble-maker Numero Uno! His life was thus in great danger and in fact several schemes hatched to illiminate him unsuccesfully.

12. MBITA: Mission Accomplished, 1994!

The Liberation Committee closed down in August 1994 with MBITA submitting a Final Report under the title: "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED"

At the final meeting of the OAU Liberation Committee in Arusha, Mwalimu NYERERE heaped praises on Brig. Gen. MBITA for his outstsnding contribution for liberation of the continent.

A 9-Volume history of Southern Africa Liberation struggles known as the HASHIM MBITA PROJECT was published in his honour in Dsm in 2014 as Southern African Liberation Struggles: Contemporaneous documents(1960-1964).

13. MBITA Appointed TZ Ambassador to Zimbabwe:

Once Brig. Gen. MBITA was done with the libetation mission, he was assigned to several other tasks including being a diplomat.

Thus, when relations between TZ and Zimbabwe deteriorated over a Tanzanian envoy's stance over the seizure of white farms, Brig. Gen. MBITA was dispatched by president BEN MKAPA as High Commissioner to smoothen relations. He served as Ambassador from 2003 to 2006 and did a commendable job.

14. Brig. Gen. MBITA Fades Away, 2015:

That Brig. Gen. MBITA faded away on 26.4.2015, a day of significant proportions to TZ is an unblemished indicator of the impact this Great man had on African politics and its quest for freedom from colonial rule. He was one of the last remaining African heroes.

15. MBITA: Showered with Praise & Awards

The late Brig. Gen. MBITA was one of the heroes of African Liberation. His heart belonged not only to TZ but also to Africa, his motherland:

15.1 Zimbabwe:

Zimbabwe awarded Brig. Gen. MBITA the highest national honour that could be given to a foreigner- "THE ROYAL ORDER OF MUNHUMUTAPA", in recognition of his outstanding role, during the SADC summit at Victoria Falls.

Brig. Gen. MBITA was represented by his beautiful daughter, Ms SHEILLA MBITA, a BOT employee. It read:

"We in Zimbabwe are glad that Hon. MBITA was able to appreciate this honour although he was not feeling well. His daughter came to receive the honour".

15.2 South Africa:

President JACOB ZUMA, on 8.12.2015, bestowed MBITA with the Order of the Companions of Oliver Tambo in Gold, during the 2018 National Orders Awards ceremony:

"For his exceptional and gallant support of African liberation movements and his tireless efforts in ensuring that the struggle for freedom throughout the African continent bore fruit".

15. 3 Joachim Chissano:

Former president JOACHIM CHISSANO who was MBITA's close friend and who had once visited and stayed with MBITA in his house in Tabora for a couple of days, said:

"During his prime, Camarada MBITA was outwardly a good natured man, but in the job, he was tough, no-nonsense, results demanding, high discipline-enforcement army officer. He was a Millitary per excellence".

15.4 Keneth Kaunda:

"Brig. Gen. HASHIM MBITA was the Headmaster of the Africa Liberation movement's Highest school".

15.5 Sam Nujoma

SAM NUJOMA, Namibian founding President, described Brig. Gen. MBITA as "courageous" and "symbol of freedom from colonialism and occupation".

15.6 Joseph Kabila:

"The late HASHIM MBITA was not only a national of his mother country, Tanzania, but also a denizen of the African continent".

15.7 AU:

On 30.1.2016, President ROBERT GABRIEL MUGABE of Zimbabwe, the then outgoing chairperson of SADC and AU, presented "THE HASHIM MBITA PROJECT" to the African Union.

The Publication is composed of 10 Volumes which document the history of the Liberation struggles in Southern Africa to be accessible to all citizens of the continent.

15.8 SADC

"This Award is for the important role Brigedier General MBITA played in regional liberation during his 20 year tenure as the Executive Secretary of the Liberation Committee of the OAU".

16. Journeying with MBITA:

As a Milambo High School Form 5 student, back in the day, I once had the privilege of travelling with Hon. MBITA in the Central Line train First Class Compartment from Dsm to Tabora. Though it was a 24 hour journey but it felt like a two hour journey as the Big man told me a lot of stories such as how he was executing his duties, criss-crossing the continent to foresee liberation struggles and various challenges he was facing. It was simply, the best journey of my life!.

17. Conclusion:

Very unfortunately, Tanzania has been drowsed with that heavy blanket of sleepness as despite having several universities, none has awarded Brig. Gen. MBITA with an honourary doctorate for his invaluable contribution to Africa.

Brig. Gen. MBITA's story has to be written. We should not allow this unique history slip through our fingers!


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